10 September 2015 – The refugee and migrant crisis in Europe will only worsen if greater efforts are not made to end the protracted conflict in Syria and address the humanitarian needs of the millions affected by the violence, says Unicef today.
“Every Syrian I spoke to has told me that they would have stayed in their own country if they were able to feel safe, live in peace, and be treated with dignity,” said Peter Salama, Unicef Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “They risk their lives and the lives of their children to flee to Europe because they have no other option and they see no future for themselves or for their children.”
The conflict in Syria has left some 16 million people – almost half of them children – in need of life-saving assistance and protection, including basic health care, safe water and sanitation and education.
Unicef reports that some 2 million children are now out of school inside Syria, while up to 5 million people living in cities and communities across the country have suffered the consequences of long and sometimes deliberate interruptions to their water supplies in recent months. Across Syria, more than half of public hospitals are only partially functioning or completely out of service according to the World Health Organization.
More than 4 million Syrians – half of them children – have fled the country since the conflict started nearly 5 years ago. Latest data from the European Union shows that the largest group of refugees arriving in Europe in 2015 is from Syria – but as efforts are stepped up to address the urgent needs of those making the perilous journeys into and across Europe, considerable support is still required in countries neighbouring Syria. Turkey alone is now home to nearly 2 million Syrians under temporary protection, more than three times the number at the beginning of 2014 and the highest number of Syrian refugees in any single country. In Lebanon, a country of 4.8 million people, 1.1 million Syrians are being accommodated, while Jordan is hosting almost 630,000 registered refugees.
Despite the enormous challenges facing those affected by the conflict, funding for humanitarian assistance is not keeping pace with needs – Unicef’s appeal for 2015 for programmes in Syria and surrounding countries, totalling US$ 903 million, is less than half funded.
Notes for editors:
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Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
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